Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Apparently, in recent years, Charlotte, North Carolina,has been victim to a terrifying series of military exercisesposing under the guise of urban combat training.The town’s inhabitants have been thrown into completepanic as gunfire and grenades have exploded in the dead ofnight. Hundreds of helicopters have come screeching downover residential areas, so low that they have rattled the windowsof buildings not to mention the nerves of the peopleinside.The police did not seem prepared to offer any reassuranceat all and simply met inquiries with the response that“operations were being performed.” The lighting conditionsand tall buildings meant that Charlotte was an ideallocation for the exercises to be carried out, unlike FortBragg, center of the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command.And the fact that the area was thinly populated andcommercial meant that the setting was lifelike, without endangeringcivilians and soldiers. Or so the Army said.But these excuses came over as distinctly pathetic toCharlotte residents who made their views on the unannouncedexercises quite clear on local radio programs. As soon as the exercises began, Mayor Pat McCrory foundhimself inundated with telephone calls from citizens andstaff as he himself attempted to take some control of the situation.Shortly afterwards he expressed his “deep concern”over the exercises in a letter to then President Clinton.It turned out that the mayor was as much in the dark aboutthe whole program as anyone else. He had been given no detailsabout what would happen and the Army had simply ensuredthat they had his signature on the confidentialityagreement. Moreover, he was led to believe that there wouldbe serious consequences if their plans were revealed to thepublic. Despite this, they let him imagine that their work wascompletely routine, that they would be in and out and no onewould even know they were there.But it would seem that the Army lied by what they didnot say as much as what they did. Police Chief DennisNowicki of Charlotte-Mecklenburg was only given warningof the disruptions four hours before the start of the onslaught,and he was lucky to have been given any warningat all. He said “When you’re holding back information,you’re deceiving.” And according to Malachi Greene, oneof the city council members, “The city got hoodooed. . . .It’s a deliberate thing on the part of these guys.”The Charlotte exercises were only one instance in a regularseries of urban combat training exercises conductedby the Special Operations Command. Similar exerciseshave apparently been carried out in Pittsburgh, where ninehelicopters and two hundred troops stormed the areas ofMcKeesport, the Strip District and Brighton Heights.The harsh criticism from officials in the cities victim tothe Army’s exercises has not encouraged any willingnessamong the Special Operations Command to accept the wellbeingof local communities as something that needs to betaken into consideration. The military has, by law, the rightto conduct training exercises as it sees fit. But to repeatedlyignore the vehement complaints of those affected by it doespoint to a conspiratorial pattern.